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What Is Genetic Engineering?

What Is Genetic Engineering?

What Is Genetic Engineering?

Genetic engineering is the artificial process of modifying the DNA in an organism's genome to introduce a desired characteristic.

A single characteristic of an organism is controlled by what?

A single gene is used to produce what inside a cell?

Which one is the largest collection of genes? the genome or the chromosome?

What can the term genome be used describe? Pick all the options you think are correct.

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In nature, changes to an organisms characteristics occur slowly over time. Mutations in the genes sometime produce desirable characteristics that help the organism survive. What do we call this process of gradual change?

Evolution can produce amazing solutions to the many problems a species need to overcome to survive. But why doesn't evolution help farmers who need a crop that can resist disease and drought? Pick all the options you think are correct.

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Engineering, generally, is about designing something, like a machine or a structure, the way we want it to look and work and then building it.

We can think about genetic engineering as the process where we design and build certain genetic traits, in for example plants, that we would like the plants to have.

With genetic engineering, we can share desirable characteristics between organisms, so if one organism has it, we can put it into another organism.


A farmer grows wheat, but the wheat suffers from a fungal infection that reduces the amount of crop produced (the yield).

She knows of a tree that is resistant to this fungus. If only she could get the tree and the wheat to breed and make a better type of wheat!


Why is it not possible to simply cross the wheat and the tree to make the perfect crop?

A) They are different species. B) They grow in different ways. C) They do not have the same types of gametes (sex cells).

The farmer needs to take something from the tree cells and add it to the wheat cells to make the wheat cells resistant to the fungus. What is it?

Genetic engineering is the process of transplanting genes from one organism to another, to produce desirable characteristics in the modified organism, for example resistance to a disease. What is it that we are actually changing in the modified organism?


The image illustrates the main stages of genetic engineering.

Without genetic engineering, crops can be altered by selective breeding. This involves cross fertilisation between individuals of the same species to try and produce a better crop (a kind of human guided evolution).


Why is genetic engineering better than selective breeding to improve crops etc.?

A) It can improve yields. B) It can improve disease resistance. C) It can improve tolerance to drought. D) It is faster and can use genes from across species.


Selective breeding takes generations and can only be done within a species.

Genetic engineering is faster and can use gene from outside the target species.

Genetic engineering can be used on humans as well as other organisms. Which of these might be considered ethically acceptable desirable characteristics to add to someones genome? Pick all the options you think are correct.

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It is important to remember that genetic engineering can be a very controversial topic! There are many ethical considerations associated with it. Not everyone agrees as to what humans should use genetic engineering for. Is it for example okay to decide beforehand what you want the gender of your child to be?